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Olympic Volunteering - Selfish?

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    Hi all,


    As we all know (whether we want to or not) the Olympics has started in London. I know quite a few people who have dedicated their time to stewarding and other volunteering opportunities that has come with such a massive event being held in our country.

    I am currently volunteering at a care home 3 days a week on a social placement, which just involves going in and talking to people, making them tea, getting them involved in activities. (I wouldn't have minded going into the personal care side, however they felt it wouldn't be approrpiate for the 7 weeks I'd be with them.) I also have been befriending at my local MIND for 2 years while studying which involves being paired with an individual and encouraging them to attain goals that they have set themselves in order to bring them back into society and give them more confidence to deal with their Mental Health problems. I'm also now involved with a gardening project which involves service users and tries to get them involved and build their confidence. This is all before going on to study Mental Health Nursing in September, and I feel that to start me off it'd be nice to give up some of my summer to get into the swing of the social side of the career I'll be involved in soon.

    The volunteering that I am involved with isn't particularly strenuous or difficult, it's mainly conversing with other people and giving them some time. It may seem pointless but I believe that it does help people in different ways, even if it stops them from sitting watching telly all day and getting bored. Therefore besides time constraints of a full time job or busy lifestyle, there aren't many excuses not to.

    I can't help but notice there are a distinct lack of volunteers in these two fields, however at the Olympics there are seemingly thousands of volunteers willing to give their time. I can't help but think about the positive impacts that this volunteer force could create if it was used for (arguably) more beneficial means. The reason I put 'selfish' in the title was not only to grab people's attention but also because I wonder if olympic volunteering is more 'glamorous' than average helping in the community sort, therefore more of a talking point when telling others.

    It'd be nice to see if after the Olympics people still feel compelled to give some of their time to other causes, even for a few hours a week. I think it would make a massive difference to society of a whole. What does everyone think?
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    Volunteering in the olympics is more about being there and feeling like a part of the event rather than to "help the community/others".

    I must add, what you're doing is great and well done to you.
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    Yeah I get that, it's just a shame people don't view other activities and helping other people as worthwhile as the Olympics
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    (Original post by Tigzie)
    Hi all,


    As we all know (whether we want to or not) the Olympics has started in London. I know quite a few people who have dedicated their time to stewarding and other volunteering opportunities that has come with such a massive event being held in our country.

    I am currently volunteering at a care home 3 days a week on a social placement, which just involves going in and talking to people, making them tea, getting them involved in activities. (I wouldn't have minded going into the personal care side, however they felt it wouldn't be approrpiate for the 7 weeks I'd be with them.) I also have been befriending at my local MIND for 2 years while studying which involves being paired with an individual and encouraging them to attain goals that they have set themselves in order to bring them back into society and give them more confidence to deal with their Mental Health problems. I'm also now involved with a gardening project which involves service users and tries to get them involved and build their confidence. This is all before going on to study Mental Health Nursing in September, and I feel that to start me off it'd be nice to give up some of my summer to get into the swing of the social side of the career I'll be involved in soon.

    The volunteering that I am involved with isn't particularly strenuous or difficult, it's mainly conversing with other people and giving them some time. It may seem pointless but I believe that it does help people in different ways, even if it stops them from sitting watching telly all day and getting bored. Therefore besides time constraints of a full time job or busy lifestyle, there aren't many excuses not to.

    I can't help but notice there are a distinct lack of volunteers in these two fields, however at the Olympics there are seemingly thousands of volunteers willing to give their time. I can't help but think about the positive impacts that this volunteer force could create if it was used for (arguably) more beneficial means. The reason I put 'selfish' in the title was not only to grab people's attention but also because I wonder if olympic volunteering is more 'glamorous' than average helping in the community sort, therefore more of a talking point when telling others.

    It'd be nice to see if after the Olympics people still feel compelled to give some of their time to other causes, even for a few hours a week. I think it would make a massive difference to society of a whole. What does everyone think?
    Yes, I've always noticed people tend to be keener on 'glamorous' volunteer projects. Another example of this is volunteer abroad schemes. Many people are willing to pay thousands to 'volunteer' to save orphans or wildlife conservation in africa etc, but wouldn't or haven't ever volunteer for a UK based project.
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    (Original post by secret_smile)
    Yes, I've always noticed people tend to be keener on 'glamorous' volunteer projects. Another example of this is volunteer abroad schemes. Many people are willing to pay thousands to 'volunteer' to save orphans or wildlife conservation in africa etc, but wouldn't or haven't ever volunteer for a UK based project.
    Never thought of this, it's a very good point!!
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    Some people volunteer because helping others gives them a since of validation. Some people volunteer because they want to be a part of something. Some people volunteer for the experience. Some probably even volunteer so they can brag about themselves. It is pointless to argue whose motive is more noble. You should be proud of the efforts you make to help, If you harbor a negative judgement toward the effort of others only serves to diminish yours.
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    Its not selfish at all, its just a more attractive opportunity.
    I personally would volunteer at the Olympics because it would be a great experience, something youd probably never experience again, its completely different to volunteering in a care home which isnt as unique and rare, they both will attract different kinds of people.
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    I don't think it's selfish, I think people just haven't found another way of volunteering that is of as much interest to them personally. You've got to have passion to be a decent volunteer, got to want to be there.

    I applied for the GamesMaker role, got one at the Paralympics. I'm not now able to go ahead with it, but I would have loved to be there. And I do volunteer 'normally', but I was lucky enough to, like you, know of an organisation that wanted me and that I wanted to be a part of.
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    All volunteering is selfish.
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    I believe you have overlooked an interesting line of thought....


    Olympic volunteers aren't getting paid.

    They therefore enjoy working for free when it is something they are passionate towards.

    The specific role you specified is just one in a large number of highly altruistic voluntary positions.


    Therefore, you can't judge these people on their choice of volunteering for the olympics because they have a greater disposition towards volunteering AND there are many more voluntary posts which they might well occupy!!! You have no idea what these people do!



    Oh, and the fact that volunteering keeps down the costs in terms of staff wages which potentially means more money can be put into security for these events. I do not agree with your view of olympics volunteers being selfish in any sense.
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    (Original post by ckingalt)
    Some people volunteer because helping others gives them a since of validation. Some people volunteer because they want to be a part of something. Some people volunteer for the experience. Some probably even volunteer so they can brag about themselves. It is pointless to argue whose motive is more noble. You should be proud of the efforts you make to help, If you harbor a negative judgement toward the effort of others only serves to diminish yours.
    It's not a negative judgement, I was just interested to see other people's opinions. I don't see myself as any better or any worse as anyone else, I was merely starting a discussion.
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    (Original post by Drewski)
    I don't think it's selfish, I think people just haven't found another way of volunteering that is of as much interest to them personally. You've got to have passion to be a decent volunteer, got to want to be there.

    I applied for the GamesMaker role, got one at the Paralympics. I'm not now able to go ahead with it, but I would have loved to be there. And I do volunteer 'normally', but I was lucky enough to, like you, know of an organisation that wanted me and that I wanted to be a part of.
    This is a good point, I suppose it wouldn't be worthwhile people being there for free and not help out just because they feel they should.

    Sorry to hear about not being able to help at the Paralympics
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    (Original post by Stevo112)
    I believe you have overlooked an interesting line of thought....


    Olympic volunteers aren't getting paid.

    They therefore enjoy working for free when it is something they are passionate towards.

    The specific role you specified is just one in a large number of highly altruistic voluntary positions.


    Therefore, you can't judge these people on their choice of volunteering for the olympics because they have a greater disposition towards volunteering AND there are many more voluntary posts which they might well occupy!!! You have no idea what these people do!



    Oh, and the fact that volunteering keeps down the costs in terms of staff wages which potentially means more money can be put into security for these events. I do not agree with your view of olympics volunteers being selfish in any sense.
    No, I'm not saying that they shouldn't do it, i think it's great that people do get involved and help out. The question I'm asking is why people feel less inclined to do more 'boring' volunteering opportunities when they may have more of a positive effect on society as a whole.

    I think the main line coming out is about passion, but I do wonder what it would take for people to become passionate about helping other people in need, even if it meant sitting and talking to someone for a few hours a week.

    Again, I'm not trying to generalize about all olympic volunteers, merely trying to stimulate a debate. Not trying to offend!
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    (Original post by electriic_ink)
    All volunteering is selfish.
    Care to elaborate?
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    (Original post by Tigzie)
    Care to elaborate?
    No giving is totally selfless. The volunteer is getting something from it.
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    My partner is volunteering at the moment, in the games themselves and then the paralympics afterwards. He volunteered for the Manchester Commonwealth Games as well in 2002 and yes, he enjoyed it. But does that make him selfish? I don't think so. I've volunteered for a charity and I've enjoyed it and found it rewarding, so is THAT selfish because I enjoyed it? At the end of the day, like it or not, this has a huge impact on the way that the rest of the world will view the UK for the next few years. You know the situation we're in economically. My partner has forked out over £1,000 to volunteer once you take into consideration accommodation, trains etc, and there are more costs all the time. I'm so proud of him for not sitting on his backside, and for doing something that will look good on his CV. The olympics are not all about the spectacle- these athletes have trained for years to get to where they are, and they wouldn't be able to compete in such a great occasion if it weren't for volunteers.

    Incidentally, I believe that very few human actions are truly selfless. You mention people who volunteer in a care home? I would suggest that people choose to do this for the social approval that it brings. It may not be consciously the reason, but there are very few human beings who would give their time if they didn't get SOMETHING back from it. Please don't think I think any less of what you do, because personally I think all volunteers are brilliant, but you're kidding yourself if you think you do it for purely selfless reasons.
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    The Olympics coming to London isn't a common occurrence. Those who chose to volunteer most likely did it to represent GB in the biggest cultural event in the world. There's a buzz and excitement attached to this, a chance to say to people "I was there", "I did that", "I saw that athlete". These things aren't likely to happen all of the time, hence the massive surge of people wanting to get involved.

    As for the volunteering you do, you can do it at any time. As I've done a degree in events I would much prefer volunteering for an event as it's more relevant to my interests, and it will also match the other work experiences on my CV. Somewhat selfishly, I can admit working in a care home wouldn't benefit me. I have volunteered for charity events such as breast cancer Race for Life, but it was extremely boring and I didn't see how the role I was doing was actually beneficial. That has put me off working for such events and charitable causes in the future.
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    (Original post by Tigzie)
    No, I'm not saying that they shouldn't do it, i think it's great that people do get involved and help out. The question I'm asking is why people feel less inclined to do more 'boring' volunteering opportunities when they may have more of a positive effect on society as a whole.

    I think the main line coming out is about passion, but I do wonder what it would take for people to become passionate about helping other people in need, even if it meant sitting and talking to someone for a few hours a week.

    Again, I'm not trying to generalize about all olympic volunteers, merely trying to stimulate a debate. Not trying to offend!
    And my question is simply;

    how do you know that the majority of olympic volunteers would otherwise turn down less glamorous volunteer work?
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    (Original post by Tigzie)

    Again, I'm not trying to generalize about all olympic volunteers, merely trying to stimulate a debate. Not trying to offend!

    (Original post by Stevo112)
    And my question is simply;

    how do you know that the majority of olympic volunteers would otherwise turn down less glamorous volunteer work?
    I'm not saying they're not. But I think it'd be wrong to assume that they all are.
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    (Original post by xoxAngel_Kxox)
    My partner is volunteering at the moment, in the games themselves and then the paralympics afterwards. He volunteered for the Manchester Commonwealth Games as well in 2002 and yes, he enjoyed it. But does that make him selfish? I don't think so. I've volunteered for a charity and I've enjoyed it and found it rewarding, so is THAT selfish because I enjoyed it? At the end of the day, like it or not, this has a huge impact on the way that the rest of the world will view the UK for the next few years. You know the situation we're in economically. My partner has forked out over £1,000 to volunteer once you take into consideration accommodation, trains etc, and there are more costs all the time. I'm so proud of him for not sitting on his backside, and for doing something that will look good on his CV. The olympics are not all about the spectacle- these athletes have trained for years to get to where they are, and they wouldn't be able to compete in such a great occasion if it weren't for volunteers.

    Incidentally, I believe that very few human actions are truly selfless. You mention people who volunteer in a care home? I would suggest that people choose to do this for the social approval that it brings. It may not be consciously the reason, but there are very few human beings who would give their time if they didn't get SOMETHING back from it. Please don't think I think any less of what you do, because personally I think all volunteers are brilliant, but you're kidding yourself if you think you do it for purely selfless reasons.

    I agree that every volunteer isn't totally selfless - I'm doing it to get myself further in my career, however my career will be mainly giving to others and doing the same type of work, so it's a bit of a catch 22 in that respect. I just noticed that during the opening ceremony a lot of emphasis was put on many of the dancers being volunteers. Obviously there aren't many opportunities for smaller organisations to recognise their volunteers on this scale, and it left me thinking "So what?" there are plenty of people that make a difference, and it's a bit of a joke for specific people to be recognised but others not so.

    I guess that from my personal point of view, volunteering in a more community and wellbeing project can have more of a positive and long lasting effect than at the Olympics. That doesn't make people that volunteer at the Olympics selfish necessarily, I just personally think that dedication could be used in a better way elsewhere. As with you, I'm totally not knocking what your partner does, to pay that amount of money to volunteer is amazing, and it's great to see that people do have dedication to things and as you say, don't just sit on their bums all day!

    I do agree with kat2pult mentioning that they found some types of volunteering boring - maybe this is what it is. I suppose I overlooked the idea that people may not feel as comfortable in other situations and therefore they may benefit better in places they enjoy being.

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